PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — After more than a month, some students finally returned to school in Pender County Monday morning.
North Carolina State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson helped welcome students back to Topsail Elementary School.
Johnson says he wanted to be there to make sure the students and teachers know school leaders in Raleigh have not forgotten about what southeastern North Carolina is going through.
He says the state is working to make sure the $2 billion rainy day fund is used to get these schools back on their feet.
Johnson says another big concern is making sure the curriculum still gets covered.
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery and that’s just one part of it,” Johnson said. “I am excited that we could get some more flexibility from Raleigh to the local districts on their calendar and I think that’s the next part of the conversation we’ll have to have with local communities of we’ve missed a lot of school. Should we start looking at when we could possibly add some schools days to the end of the school year.”
Topsail Elementary School is also finally back in use, but the principal there says it still has a long way to go. The school was used as a shelter during Hurricane Florence.
Principal Melissa Wilson says there are three staff members and 15 students who are still displaced.
She says teachers spent the weekend trying to get their classrooms back to normal, but they are still dealing with damage.
“We did lose a portion of our roof which brought water into the ceiling,” Wilson said. “We lost a lot of ceiling tiles. We had a lot of water in classrooms and common areas of the school, so some of it meant that teachers lost instructional supplies. Some of it meant that we have things in our school that may not be working right now like our fire alarm, our front door buzzer.”
Wilson says they have to take extra measures to make sure the school is safe for students.
After Pender County, Johnson went to Duplin County to see how they’re preparing to open later this week.